Sunday, July 27, 2008

MOMAR Shawnigan Race Report

I survived MOMAR Shawnigan! And although it was not my best performance to date I still really enjoyed the race and have plenty of awesome memories from my (close to) 7hour adventure.
  • Found a horseshoe and packed it out:)
  • Didn't cramp!! First time for everything!
  • Had a fantastic rip on my bike- super fun long flowy single track XC trails had me grinning the whole way.
  • No mechanicals-other than my beener and nipple- more to come on that!
  • Had enough food (lucky I packed extra cause I was out there way longer than planned)
  • Met lots of great people on the course! Strange encounters occur on the race course -very unlike everyday life- instant conversations ignite at checkpoints and helpful tips are exchanged with complete strangers who are united with a common goal of reaching the finish. Hello to my new race course friends! Whoever and wherever you are...see you next time!
The BAD:
  • Ran out of water 2 hours before I finished. Dizzy with thirst.
  • Messed up my right forearm -on the kayak- which I cannot use today as it is flared up and screaming to the touch. This race report is my final suffering then I must rest and ice it...
  • Royally *&^%^@ up on my 2nd CP on the orienteering course and completely blew my race with one crucial mistake.
The Play by Play:
Saturday awoke at 6:00am for breaky, tea and a nice slow wake up.
7:45am Arrived at race central and got dropped off with my bike, race gear and paddle. Rain started at this moment.
8:10am Picked up race map and checked out the new course. Plenty o biking with some long gravel road sections linking into downhill XC biking routes. I was correct when I foresaw that it would be much longer than last year.
9:00am Water start on the kayak leg- down and back on Shawnigan Lake in a warm summer rainstorm. Uneventful 1:10 paddle other than a few fish jumping, a river otter traversing through a mass of kayaks and a nice rainfall. Fell slowly to the back of the pack with the other solo paddlers and couples in plastic or tub double kayaks. This is always a mental challenge for myself as a solo racer...watching all the fast boats take off and knowing that you have to work your way up through the packs of people over the coming hours. But, I had to just let them go and find my own rhythm or risk burning out half way down the lake!
10:10 back at race central I jumped out of the boat and ran to the CP to grab my first punch of the day. Then I grabbed my bike and took off. I was already in my bike shoes, wearing my pack and had already pulled out a fruit bar to eat on the road. I was stoked with a v. fast transition.
10:13 Bike leg...till? 1pm? Lost contact with my watch and the minutes flowed into hours after this. I think we were on and off the bikes for 3-4 hours but can't be sure until I see the split times. Rode out of transition and headed towards the Cowichan Valley Trail.
10:14 Minor incident- one of my mini caribiners popped off my map bag while I was leaving transition. This was an 'oh crap' moment as I struggled to come up with a Macgiver style solution to a dangling map bag. Managed to loop my water hose through the map bag D-ring and secure it through a backpack strap all while riding as hard as safely possible.
10:16 Medium incident- I fell backwards off my bike into a small crowd while trying to squeeze through a boulder and step on a slippery section...I lost my footing and had nowhere to go but ass over teakettle so to speak. A full 3 minutes into the ride I was covered in mud from head to toe. Nice. Mental note- multitasking is not always a helpful skill.
Rode the trail and then a section of road until we reached Burnt Bridge and picked up CP2. Then it was into the trails for over 2 hours of unmarked mountain biking navigation. I got off course right away with two short wrong turns and then got my act together to pick up CP3. Saw a steep climb back up to the road on the map...then came around the corner to witness a scene out of MadMax- 8 or 10 racers were trying (with not much success) to push their bikes up a 100foot sandhill cliff while sliding backwards and even falling under the weight of their bikes. "Oh this is awesome!" I yelled- looking for a laugh but no one took the bait. Soon I too was sliding backwards in the deep soft sand and trying to maintain some forward momentum. I hucked my bike onto my back and kickstepped my way up- leaning forward and scrambling with my free hand. 2 guys dressed in black stood at the top reaching out with helpful hands to pull up girls who were struggling to make it over the lip and up to the road. Although I didn't personally need a helping hand, this was a great show of sportsmanship and I give kudos to these guys for helping out those in need!
Back on the gravel road for a big climb that put us up in the middle of nowhere. I was second guessing myself because a huge landmark- major powerlines- was not on the map. This really messed with my mind as I thought for sure these would be on the map. But I charged on as this was one of my goals for this race- commit to a decision and go full speed with it. In the end I was right on course and found the next CP without issue. We cruised downhill on a fun single track section made up of 1/2 a foot of dust. I learned a new riding technique that I had been afraid to try until yesterday- Ride the Slide as i like to call it. That's right, I had to just go with the flow and ride out the fishtale as we slid down a sandune like line back to the road. I didn't fall over the edge so it was all good in the end!
Back into the trails- took a brief detour and quickly relocated the correct trail I continued to pass multiple teams and made my way up towards the mid-front pack. More climbing ...more checkpoints...more sweet flowy long singletrack downhill and flats. Really loved that bike! Did I say that already?
Somewhere around this time I had another minor incident- riding up a big hill I suddenly felt water spraying on me and thought for a brief moment that either it was raining or I was peeing myself. Then saw my nipple had popped off my water hose due to the Macgiver map rigging. This time I had to stop for a second and put the pieces back together. Lost a bit of water but it could have been way worse!
Finally it was down to the river and off the bike for a river run leg. Downstream 200meters for the first CP then back to the start and upstream 100meters for the second river CP. River running is very dangerous but very fun at the same time. Let's just say we couldn't wear our bike shoes- but we had to wear our helmets. Slip, slop, crash repeat-all in knee to thigh high water. Made it to the CP area and saw that they had carefully placed it across the river. 2 choices immediately became apparent: a) continue running upstream and cross at a shallow spot or b) dive into the deep pool and swim directly across the river to the CP. Well- short cuts are always my favorite options so I jumped in and had a refreshing swim. A volunteer watching over the CP started yelling at the top of his lungs: "Adventure!!!" which really made me laugh:)
Ohhh that forearm is on fire. I better make this brief:)
Back to the bikes- push across river- ride and hike a bike...ride and ride and photo op at the lookout and water and snacks and ride...
Arrived at the quarry for the anticipated swim-which did not disappoint. I was handed a pool noodle and told to obtain 2 CPs from floats out in the quarry. "Do you really think this thing is going to stop me from drowning" I ask and jump into the aqua marine water. Very warm, very refreshing, very hard to swim with bike shoes, helmet, gloves, pool noodle, racer passport in the mouth and of course in full racing outfit. Didn't really think I was going anywhere and used a variety of strokes but eventually I made it across and back to my bike.
A short ride uphill took us to the final transition area-dropped the bikes, grabbed a cup of water (actually it wasn't was some very strange cough syrup tasting drink that I had a hard time keeping down) and ran to pick up my orienteering map. "GREAT JOB! You are the first solo female!" the volunteers cheered me on. I had planned to take water bottles from this CP and carry them in my pack on the O stage but this was not an option. So...on a went knowing I was nearly out of water and just hoping I would fly through the O section. At this point it had to be nearly 5 hours into the race and I grabbed an energy gel, got out my compass and started trekking.
My plan was to take the CPs in the order of proximity and run trails until I was on the same contour then shoot a bearing and hit the bush. Got the first CP then took off for my second- full of hope and promise I might add here:) Took off down my handrail trail towards the next CP and bunched up with a team of 2 ladies and a solo guy looking for the same CP.
This is where the end of my race began. Instead of planning my fine navigation into the CP I ran with the others to the end of the trail and into a clearing. I should have stopped before the end of the trail and made my way into the bush heading across slope until I hit the gully-then directly uphill to the CP. Once I was in the clearing I was disoriented and unsure of my position. I had unknowingly looped back the same direction as I had come from while running with my head down and following the group towards the CP. This is where I broke a cardinal rule (ok ok I am telling you this so you can see I am only human!) of orienteering: As soon as you are unsure of your exact location STOP and return to the last spot you knew your location on the map. If I had done thatI would have saved myself an extra 60 minutes of frusrtation, wandering, confusion, random hiking and basically complete disappointment with myself. But instead I opted for that.
I had covered the entire mountain side (along with 8 other frustrated racers) and decided to screw checkpoint "J" and take the 20 minute penalty when I came withing 30 meters of the correct gully and received a helpful tip from a fellow racer who had just stumbled upon it. I raced to the CP and knelt down beside it with near tears in my eyes from the relief and pure joy that overcame me. 'Thank God' were my exact words. I can't tell you how good it felt to be 100% sure of my location again.
I had honestly never experienced being totally disoriented and out of touch with my location on the map before that moment. But- of course there are always lessons to be learned. Now I know that I never want to go through that again!! I have also realized that I have been used to racing clean races-without orienteering mistakes-and my expectations of myself are very high in this area. I was really surprised how disappointed with myself I was. But I did work through it and came to the conclusion that I am not a race result be it first or last, good or bad. I am much more than that:) Ok that was your sneakpeak into my psyche. Deep thoughts by Sarah Seads...
Back to the O-course: Good times on the rest of the course and I cleaned up all of the remaining CPs without any difficulty. I decided to skip one CP that I thought would take me longer than 20 minutes to climb up to and return to my elevation- and take the 20 minute penalty. It was an easy decision as I had been out on the course for 6.5hours and was ready to get er done anyhow. Ran for the last CP on the way to the finish and something on the trail caught the corner of my eye. A quick glance confirmed it was a lost horseshoe now half buried in the dry powdery trail dust. I had already covered 20meters of downhill when I suddenly stopped, turned around and climbed back up the trail to retrieve it. I would have kicked myself if I left it there! What are the chances of finding a horseshoe in a race! I figured it might bring me the good luck that I was so badly needing (wish I had found it earlier). Ran ahead, grabbed the last CP then a hard run to the finish. 6hours 40something minutes later - that was my longest time on a MOMAR course for sure. Happy to have completed the course but disappointed with my time I handed in my passports and posed for a picture with my horseshoe souvenir.
A big thanks to Dani, Cris and Brad for waiting patiently for me at the finish line. I was a bit later than planned and they stuck it out amongst the finish line chaos and constant loudspeaker commentating until I cruised through the finish.
Lessons learned. And really my race was 5.5hours of pure fun and only 1 hour of slight mental torture!
The race results have not been posted so I do not know my standing. I was the third female across the line but I had a penalty and I don't know if anyone else had any missed CPs. So...check back to the MOMAR site for pics and results tomorrow...


Korky said...

Congratulations!! Great tale you write!

Jen said...

Crazy! Definitely very hard core :-) And I'm liking the insight into Sarah Seeds' psyche too! Congrats!